Fun. Define ‘fun’.
In three days’ time a group of kids with ages ranging from 5 to 11 whose only purpose is to have fun will take over our Cultura Inglesa branch. As they climb the stairs to the lobby they prick their ears and search the perimeter with eagle eyes avid for their prey: fun. We, the teachers, fiddle with keys, paper, realia or whatever we can in anticipation – will we be able to fulfill their demand? Will the activities we have so carefully prepared be what they are expecting? Bottomline: “Is it possible to entertain this bunch of little people and at the same time do some teaching? Simple answer: YES, as long as those in charge of the teaching are also having fun.
I’ve always believed ‘fun’ is a two-way street when it comes to teaching. It is absolutely possible to entertain your students if – and only if – you also enjoy the activities you have prepared. Learning another language at a young age is an adventure. Teaching young learners is a roller coaster ride. So, why don’t you climb aboard in the right gear?
When preparing your lessons for young learners, always have in mind they see you as some sort of magician – you make stuff happen! You conduct games, you dictate the rules, you play goofy and make them laugh. You’re the boss. So you might as well see yourself as an entertainer that teaches rather than a teacher that entertains. If students like you and have fun in your classes, you’ll be able to wrap them around your little finger, I mean, your teaching will be way easier than if you just impose rules and ‘make’ them learn. Natural learning just ‘happens’. So, mull over the following:
- Before planning your lessons, observe. If you don’t have children in the family, go to a park or square and observe the way a child relates to others, how she plays and for how long she dedicates her attention to one activity. Bear that in mind when you decide to implement something in the classroom.
- While planning your lessons, change places. Imagine you are the child, and try and play the game/do the activity yourself, and be critical. Would you enjoy it? For how long? Would you want to do it again?
- After teaching your lessons, look back. Was the lesson successful? Did you reach your aims? Did the kids have fun? Did YOU have fun?
Above all, never forget that simple, uncomplicated activities are most often the best ones. How many times has a child discarded the expensive present and preferred to play with the colourful wrapping paper instead? Considering all that, we’re planning simple but effective activities for the visiting kids this Friday. They’ll have to think, run, jump, dance, repeat, throw balls, sing, reason, play as a team. And all of us will most definitely have a good time and go home with a smile in our lips. We teach. They learn. We all have fun.